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literaturenerd's profile pic

literaturenerd | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

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Mercerism is the fictional dominant religion depicted in Philip Dick's novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?

This religion was brought about by the religious cult figure, Wilbur Mercer. Mercer is required to walk endlessly up a mountain while stones are thrown down at him. His followers feel the same physical pain that he does as the rocks strike him repeatedly.

The religion is used to create the sense of a collective among its followers based upon the fact that they share the physical pains of their "leader." The followers of Mercer are linked together through "Empathy Boxes" which allow them to share in his pain.

The religion comes about after the "World War Terminus" which has destroyed the majority of the earth.

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thetall | (Level 1) Senior Educator

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Mercerism is a religion that spread on earth and the space colonies after World War Terminus whose main purpose is to unite humanity. This religion is founded upon the life and teachings of a man called Wilbur Mercer and is based on two principles: empathy to other individuals and working for the good of the community. The adherents of Mercerism use mood organs known as empathy boxes to enter into a world where everybody is connected to the rest of humanity. There is such a deep connection that when the followers view images of Mercer being stoned, they feel the exact physical pain he did. Even though Mercerism is exposed as a scam, and Mercer seconds the allegations as true, people do not abandon the religion. They choose to stay on because unlike the artificial world, Mercerism though not real kept human emotions alive by connecting humanity through empathy.